8 Fun Ways to Encourage Your Child to Brush and Floss
While children need to start practicing dental hygiene as soon as their baby teeth start coming in, the average child won’t develop the motor skills to properly brush and floss until after the age of six. This means that you, as a parent, are responsible for supervising their dental hygiene and teaching them healthy habits. Not only can this be a time commitment, especially when you have more than one child, it can also be a daily source of frustration if they show any resistance. Fortunately, there are some tried and true ways to encourage your child to brush and floss.
Use an electric toothbrush.
Since children are still developing the eye-hand coordination to brush and floss, an electric toothbrush can be a great way to promote better dental hygiene. The motion and vibration of the electric toothbrush does most of the work, so kids can get their teeth cleaner without as much effort. The built-in timers are also perfect for letting your child know when they need to switch sides and when they are done brushing. You won’t have to worry about fighting with them about brushing longer—all they have to do is pay attention to the gentle beeps.
While you will still need to supervise them as they brush, the electric toothbrush will keep them engaged and entertained. If your child doesn’t have the best attention span and you are having trouble keeping them focused, an electric toothbrush can take a lot of the frustration out of the daily brushing routine.
Purchase kids flossers
When your children are little, you may have to do the flossing for them, but once they reach a certain age, you can begin to teach them how to floss themselves. As soon as their teeth have grown in enough to be touching, they should be flossing. Again, they will still be working on mastering this new skill, but you can encourage them by buying kids flossers. These products come in a variety of bright colors and animal shapes that help make flossing fun, and they are easy for small hands to maneuver.
Join the Cavity Free Club.
At Must Love Kids pediatric dentistry in Vancouver, WA, we established the Cavity Free Club to encourage our young patients to practice dental hygiene. If your child is cavity-free at their six-month check-up, they get their picture posted on the wall in the playroom and they are entered in a competition to win a prize. The club is a simple and fun way to provide some recognition for their good habits and encourage them to continue to brush and floss.
Make it a family event.
One of the best ways to teach good habits is to lead by example. Most kids look up to their parents and want to mimic grown-up activities. Use this opportunity to brush and floss together and show them that is something that everyone does, including adults. When kids are supervised as they brush and floss all by themselves, they can begin to view it as a punishment or a hassle. Making it a family event will ensure it feels more like they belong and aren’t being singled out.
Make it fun and silly.
Get creative and don’t be afraid to turn brushing and flossing into a fun and silly routine. Whether you make up a song to sing before you brush together or you turn it into some sort of game, the less serious you are about it, the more engaged your child will be.
Put on a song or podcast.
One simple way to add some fun to your kid’s dental routine is by playing their favorite song or podcast. Sometimes the best way to get them to focus on a task is by providing the right distraction. A little music or background entertainment will make the time fly by and help them associate brushing with fun, positive emotions, which is key to developing healthy habits that will follow them well into adulthood.
Pick your battles.
As a parent, you have probably already learned that you can’t win every battle. If you can get your kids to spend two minutes brushing their teeth at least twice a day, then you might want to let it go if they don’t thoroughly rinse the sink and their brush when they are done. Be patient. In time, they will get the whole routine down, but for now, it will save you both a lot of frustration if you aren’t looking for perfection.
Give as much positive reinforcement as possible.
One thing that all the suggestions above have in common is that they are meant to provide positive reinforcement and make brushing and flossing a more enjoyable experience for your kids. So no matter what techniques you use to encourage them, always provide positive attention and focus on the things they do right without constantly pointing out places where they could improve. The more you are able to make daily brushing a positive activity, the less of a struggle it will be, especially over time as they are able to do more on their own.
Time spent brushing and flossing with your children doesn’t have to turn into a battle of the wills. There are plenty of simple techniques you can use to encourage them and work to turn dental hygiene habits into a positive experience for the whole family. Follow the suggestions above and think about the different interests of your kids to create strategies that speak to their individual personalities. Also, be sure to establish a relationship with a pediatric dentist near you. At Must Love Kids, we provide a long list of pediatric services and work with parents and kids throughout Vancouver, WA, to help families encourage healthy oral health habits.
Contact us today for more suggestions on ways to encourage your child to brush and floss or to schedule a visit. We look forward to hearing from you.